Read The Queen of Subtleties by Suzannah Dunn Online


Anne Boleyn and Lucy Cornwallis: queen andconfectioner, fatefully linked in a court rife with intrigue and treachery She was the dark-eyed English beauty who captivated King Henry VIII, only to die at his behest three years after they were married. She was both manipulator and pawn, a complex, misunderstood mélange of subtlety and fire. Her name was Anne Boleyn. In The QueAnne Boleyn and Lucy Cornwallis: queen andconfectioner, fatefully linked in a court rife with intrigue and treachery She was the dark-eyed English beauty who captivated King Henry VIII, only to die at his behest three years after they were married. She was both manipulator and pawn, a complex, misunderstood mélange of subtlety and fire. Her name was Anne Boleyn. In The Queen of Subtleties, Suzannah Dunn reimagines the rise and fall of the tragic queen through two alternating voices: that of Anne herself, who is penning a letter to her young daughter on the eve of her execution, and Lucy Cornwallis, the king's confectioner. An employee of the highest status, Lucy is responsible for creating the sculpted sugar centerpieces that adorn each of the feasts marking Anne's ascent in the king's favor. They also share another link of which neither woman is aware: the lovely Mark Smeaton, wunderkind musician—the innocent on whom, ultimately, Anne's downfall hinges....

Title : The Queen of Subtleties
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780007907748
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 314 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Queen of Subtleties Reviews

  • Madeline
    2019-01-19 20:10

    I'll be honest - I didn't finish this book. I didn't even get halfway through it, actually, so maybe something really surprising and interesting happened at the end - I have no idea, but I don't really care.My main problem with this book was that the author attempted to paint Anne Boleyn as a good person who was just an innocent victim of her family's ambitions. Bullshit. Yeah, Anne's family was ambitious, but there's only so much a person can be forced to do. Anne was an intelligent, driven, confident bitch, and she knew exactly what she was doing every second of every day, and Henry was putty in her crafty little hands. In this book, however, Henry falls in love with Anne all by himself, and she actually ignores him - and not because she's being coy, either. The story has two narrators -Anne, and the king's confectionary cook, for some odd reason. I think I stopped reading the book soon after I realized that the cook was going to be a regular character in the story, and that I didn't give a crap about her. The language used in the book was also distracting. In a sad attempt to make the story accessible to modern readers, the author has her characters talk like they live in modern times. There's a right way and a wrong way to do this - the wrong way is to take the modern-language thing so far that the people in the book start to sound like characters on One Tree Hill. Honestly: Anne actually says in her narration that Henry "fell for me."

  • Bethany
    2019-02-11 21:21

    RUN! RUN FAST! Is there a way to give negative stars? Less than one? This was one of the WORST things I've ever read! Ludicrous, poorly written, and full of modern slang and phraseology. Yuck, yuck, yuck!

  • Iset
    2019-01-27 22:34

    The first thing that struck me about The Queen of Subtleties was the distinctly modern tone. Not a glaring issue, it nonetheless just didn’t feel quite right. Of course all historical fiction novels are ‘translations’ into modern language – no one expects a Tudor novel to be written in Shakespeare’s English, or a Roman novel to be written in Latin – but there are certain unspoken rules, such as avoiding using idioms or slang that is characteristic of later eras. It’s not a big issue here, let me stress that; Dunn doesn’t have Henry VIII talking about electricity or Wolsey saying ‘innit’. But she does have Anne Boleyn telling Henry “you should stop giving me presents” and “it’s not you, it’s me”, and that just felt too modern. I agreed with the sentiments – historically this does seem to be how Anne felt about Henry initially – and I’m not saying I expect her to say things like; ‘forsooth, verily leave me be’, but turns of phrase like “it’s not you, it’s me” are too well known in modern relationship lingo to feel like they belong in a Tudor novel. This gets worse as the novel progresses: Anne Boleyn outright swears at Henry VIII; both Anne and Henry were religious and Henry in particular found lewd talk extremely distasteful, an opinion he was very vocal about; there is just no way that Anne would have spoken to Henry the way she does in this novel, and as a result this book is just not as believable as it could have been; all because of the language used being so anachronistically modern.The same thing occurs with character names. In the author’s note Dunn plainly states that “diminutives of names have been used to avoid confusion (between, for example, the many Henrys and Francises, Marys and Elizabeths) or to avoid a dated version (Meg Shelton was in fact known as Madge, and Betsy Blount as Bessie).” However, I disagree with this particular authorial decision. “Meg”, with the current popularity in recent years of the name Megan, unfortunately comes off as modern-sounding, and “Betsy” is reminiscent of the 1940s so it feels a little strange that the author should have substituted it in when “Bessie” is so timeless. Half the time Madge Shelton was “Meg Shelston” and half the time she was “Meg Shelton” too. Furthermore, Thomas Wyatt becomes “Tommy”, William Brereton becomes “Billy”, Edward Fox is “Eddie”, Charles Brandon is “Charlie”, and Francis Weston becomes “Franky”, all of which sat very jarringly for me, and Henry VIII’s son, Henry Fitzroy, becomes “Fitz” without explanation. I understand that Dunn is trying to make matters less confusing, but there’s no scene where Henry Fitzroy is introduced by his full name and thereafter referred to as “Fitz”, he’s just “Fitz” from the get go, which I think is more confusing. It actually took more time to think who on earth she was talking about when she used these diminutives than had she used their real names, because I’m so used to these people’s real names. Anne Boleyn even refers to her parents as “Mum” and “Dad”. I get that Dunn wants to portray that the Boleyns have a close relationship, and I’m fairly confident that historically the real Boleyns were a close-knit family, but I’m equally sure that at this period children, especially noble children, did not call their parents “Mum” and “Dad” – it would have been “Mother” and “Father”, or perhaps “Mama” or “Ma” and “Papa” or “Pa” as diminutives. Again, I understand Dunn’s reasons for wanting to use diminutives, but one has to be careful when giving characters of the same name nicknames in historical fiction to distinguish them – the nicknames themselves cannot sound too anachronistic, and should be as much as possible in keeping with the era, even if that means not using diminutives but some sort of epithet gained on a past adventure or a descriptive of their appearance.There’s a fair bit of historical inaccuracy aside from the anachronistic language. Dunn covers a few points in her author’s note; she reveals that she changed one of Henry’s jousting mottoes from “Declare je nos” to “No Comment”, that she has Elizabeth Howard in the Tower with Anne instead of her aunt Elizabeth Boleyn, that she has Henry Norris break the news of the king’s fall to Anne instead of her uncle the Duke of Norfolk, and she changes the name of Anne’s dog from Purkoy to “Pixie”. Again, props to Dunn for openly revealing this in her author’s note, but what isn’t made clear is why. No reason is given for why Dunn found it necessary to change Purkoy’s name to Pixie, and indeed it’s such an irrelevant point that it seems totally unnecessary to me to change it at all, to change any of those points; the “No Comment” one is the worst change though, because it sounds far too modern again, a phrase arising out of the media-laden 20th century. However, unfortunately there are other inaccuracies lurking in the book that Dunn doesn’t tell us about. The ship The Mary Boleyn and Anne's date of birth are under debate, but the big one was Lucy and Richard’s conversation about going to Nonsuch Palace in a chapter dated 1535. Nonsuch Palace didn’t even begin construction until 1538, and it was still incomplete in 1556. I know dates about buildings are difficult to remember, but this is an easy one because Henry VIII commissioned it in the aftermath of his third wife, Jane Seymour’s death, naming it thus since it was such a remarkable design there would be “none such” like it anywhere. In any case, we once again – for my third book in a row now, worse luck – have a case of two clicks on Wikipedia rectifying this little mistake. Tomatoes in ancient Egypt? Tea in the Trojan War? Nonsuch Palace miraculously appearing in 1535?These things are annoying, admittedly, but not enough to totally drag this book down. I’ll grant Dunn hit upon a novel idea by interweaving Anne Boleyn’s story with that of Mrs Cornwallis, the king’s confectioner. Although Dunn obviously had to invent almost everything she writes about Lucy, I rather enjoyed the indulgence of lavishing my imagination all over those descriptions of marvellous fairytale sugar subtleties, and I did wonder how Lucy’s story would tie in. Lucy’s naivety was a little irritating and unbelievable, but I could deal with it as I wondered what would come of the intertwining of these two stories. What would come of Lucy and Anne’s tales; surely there would be some coming together or perhaps a clever thematic intertwining towards the end? Um… no. Lucy gets a crush on Mark Smeaton, something which is telegraphed from the very first chapter in Lucy’s perspective, and well, we all know how that turns out. But, surely, Lucy will learn something from all this, there’ll be some sort of growth of character or renewal, won’t there? Nope. We leave things with Lucy when her apprentice, Richard, tells her he’s getting out of all this nasty business at court and seeking a fresh start in London. Is Lucy going to leave behind her life as the king’s confectioner too, saddened over the loss of Mark and determined to “go out and live her own life” and settle down like she has been talking about with Mark for almost the entire book? No. She stays, and that’s it. It’s not a bad ending, but I expected more. It’s like an unfinished sentence, it just sort of hangs there.The book is quite well-written, nothing to wow me but competent and readable enough, but the modern dialogue and use of diminutives mars it. Throw in a couple of accuracy bloopers, and historical alterations that are stated openly but seem unnecessary and don’t really make any sense, plus to finish it off a fictional story that doesn’t really go anywhere at the end… and it all feels a little odd. Not bad, but not quite right either. I was perhaps most disappointed in Dunn’s portrayal of Anne Boleyn. At first I was quite hopeful; Dunn gets much closer to the true Anne in the beginning of the book when she shows her initially refusing the king’s advances, not wanting to get involved, but slowly coming round as they find intellectual and conversational matches in each other. I was relieved not to be reading about another Anne such as Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel portray – from a slimy, ambitious family willing to pimp out their daughters for favours, pretty much from the start out to win the crown, relentless cruel and spiteful. Unfortunately this Anne descends into the Mean Girl Anne stereotype later on in the novel, characterised by her anachronistic foul mouth and absolutely shocking vitriolic behaviour – I actually understood why Henry is this book wanted to rid himself of her, though of course he does so in a despicably selfish, cold manner. The real Anne, it is known, did on rare occasion let her temper get the better of her, but it wasn’t a frequent event and she certainly wasn’t swearing like the trooper she is here. That doesn’t justify the frequent portrayals of her in recent years as a harpy from hell – for goodness’ sakes, in my family we’ve had blazing rows over who drank the last of the milk, we can hardly infer that Anne Boleyn was so poisonously nasty from a mere handful of reported arguments over the course of several years of her life. She doesn’t deserve the spiteful harridan stereotype she’s been given in many historical novels.All in all, an odd book with some promising ideas and reasonably well-written, but brought down by strange authorial decisions, anachronistic language, and the second fictional plot that ultimately doesn’t lead anywhere.4 out of 10

  • L'aura
    2019-01-18 16:13

    I'll just come out of the closet: unlike the, uhm, apparently 90% of the people who read this book, I liked it. The novel follows, in parallel, the story of Anne Boleyn and that of Lucy Cornwallis, the court's confectioner, so basically a kitchen employee. The chapters are written by Anne and Lucy's POVs alternately, and in contrast to nearly every piece of historical fiction you'll ever read the two aren't friends--actually they never have any exchange: Lucy simply makes pastries for Anne and the court to eat. The only trait d'union between the two is Mark Smeaton, who knows both, and that's about it. Lucy is s witness to Anne's time and merely provides a different point of view. Two interesting things: first off, Lucy isn't a fictional character, as Dunn points out at the end of the book. It's refreshing, because I'm sick of made out Mary Sues saving the day in fiction. Second aspect-- I really liked Anne's POV. I thought it was in character, realistic, and particularly poignant in her last chapter, a letter to Elizabeth. So there it is, I'll go back in my hidden corner.

  • Cate
    2019-02-11 23:18

    I picked this up in the local thrift store, and it will be heading back there just as quickly as it came home. After my seemingly bad run of luck with books recently, I was hoping that an historical piece of fiction might help break the dam; it was not going to happen with this book and, to be honest I didn’t finish it either.I had many issues with the book as far as I read. The character of Anne Boleyn was rather insulting when compared to what is known of her from historical documents. In this interpretation of her character she is portrayed as being the innocent pawn of her Families’ ambitions to rise higher within the Tudor Court, rather than the driven and confident woman that readers are used to. As one of the narrators of the book, the language she uses is far too modern for the time period in which it is set, and this was the reason for my not finishing the book. The language used by both Anne and the other narrator was extremely distracting and, I can’t help but feel the Author wrote this book in this manner to make her work more accessible to the modern reader.I wish I could say something good about the contents of this book, but the only saving grace about it for me was the cover image, which I kept returning to look at time and again and this was the reason for my 1 thumb review. I will not be reading anything else by this Author, and find it a hard book to recommend to anyone who enjoys a good historical novel.Originally reviewed on: work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

  • Kathleen
    2019-01-27 22:19

    The Queen of Subtleties, which I persistently misspell, is a novel about Anne Boleyn and her rise and fall in Henry VIII's court, as told through a letter Anne is writing to her daughter and... I guess the first-person testimony of Henry's chief confectioner, Lucy Cornwallis. I picked it up because Dunn just had another book come out, The May Bride, about Jane Seymour, and I saw this and The Confessions of Katherine Howard and picked them both up while I was at it. This book is... okay? The story is quite well told, and I did somewhat like Dunn's take on Anne, a straightforward and not-dissembling woman in a court of sneaky people. Anne enjoys the company of men more than women, and seems to genuinely like if not love Henry. She is also calculating, manipulative, and cynical. I do feel that Dunn missed another dimension of Anne's character, the deeply religious and fervent woman, and of course Dunn opted for the Anne of the Thousand Days interpretation where Henry pursues an initially reluctant Anne on his own. That's debatable, I suppose.Lucy Cornwallis is also an interesting character, but I must say, I don't really know why she's in this book? Her story didn't seem to add much to Anne's, and of course the two never met; their stories only connect through the person of Mark Smeaton. Still, she's a fascinating character, and I did like the look into confectionary of the period.My main problem with this book was the excessively modern tone. Anne used expressions such as "no way" and "partied," and refers to her parents as "Mum and Dad" and Katherine of Aragon as "Fat Cath." It just seemed completely out of keeping with the rest of the book. So, you know, it's kind of eh. If you liked The Tudors, it might be worth a read; just be aware that the dialogue and writing is far more suited to modern-day chicklit than to historical fiction.

  • MichelleCH
    2019-01-29 15:31

    Ditto to what others have said. The tone was way too modern.I laughed out-loud when Henry told everyone to skedaddle so that he could be alone with Anne. The image in my head was priceless, I doubt it was what the author was intending. Henry is a poor, befuddled mess and thank goodness Anne is there to save the day. She knows how to handle Wolsey, the divorce and home renovations. Anne also liberally uses the F-word and yes, even to Henry. Funny thing is that this word might not have been in use at that time; and if so, was so taboo that it wasn’t even written down. I doubt Anne bandied it about so casually in conversation. “You f…. promised Henry!” She also has a nickname for the Queen, “Fat Cat’. Could Anne be on The Real Housewives? I think yes.So the story alternates between Anne’s modern point of view and that of the confectioner for the King, Lucy Cornwallis. Her every moment is spent in spinning sugar treats – a few chapters in, I really wondered if anyone had any teeth left. Lucy also develops this rather weird and not very plausible relationship with Mark Smeaton, who comes by just to shoot the breeze in his fancy doublet. Maybe this is how they roll on Wisteria Lane.Another bizarre twist is that Alison Weir gives it thumbs up!

  • Lori
    2019-02-16 15:27

    I've read numerous books on Anne Boleyn and I enjoyed this well told version. Told in the first person as Anne writing to her young daughter, Elizabeth, on the eve of her execution. It also brought in another perspective, that of the king's confectioner which added interesting tidbits. Overall, a well told story.

  • Mary Corbal
    2019-02-18 19:38

    La trama se cuenta desde el punto de vista de Ana Bolena, que se muestra como una mujer egoísta, vanidosa e inteligente; mientras que Enrique VIII es un personaje veleidoso, que solamente se preocupa de su propio bienestar e interés. Muy recomendable para quienes les atraiga este periodo en la historia de Inglaterra, y además es bastante ameno como literatura de ficción.

  • CS
    2019-02-05 17:21

    I bought this book when it was new in paperback, read a chaper of two, put it down, and never came back - until now, when I'm on another Tudor kick.Suzannah Dunn is not exactly my favorite historical fiction author. I remember being very irritated with The Sixth Wife, and some of what annoyed me about that book is present here. Dunn just doesn't seem to like her characters very much. It's as if she looked around, saw that Phillipa Gregory and others were making bank with their Tudor-set books, thought "Well, I write better than THEM," and appropriated the time period without really having a deep interest or affinity for the story she is telling - other than the money it might bring in. I'm sure I'm doing her a disservice, but there's something so cold and calculated about the writing that I can't help the feeling.The title is slightly misleading. The book has two narrators: Anne Boleyn, on the eve of her execution, writing a letter to Elizabeth; and Lucy Cornwallis, confectioner to Henry VIII. However, while each woman might be called Queen - Lucy rules her sugar kingdom far more effectively than Anne ever attempted to rule England - neither is exactly subtle.There are various overly used Anne Boleyn tropes in historical fiction, and here Dunn picks Anne the Royal Bitch. Her Anne is two-dimensional: self-centered, jaded, calculating and bitter. She doesn't love Henry. But when he makes his amorous intentions known, Anne has no intention of being his plaything ala her sister Mary, so hey, let's put him off and see just how far he will go to have her. And, y'know, being Queen sounds nice, especially since Catherine of Aragon is such a fat old ugly pious thing and doesn't England deserve a pretty, glamorous Queen who can bear sons? (Seriously, in this book it seems that most of Anne's ambition is solely focused on spiting Catherine and her daughter Mary. Forget raising her family to wealth and the peerage; forget that Anne believed in religious reform.)Lucy Cornwallis, on the other hand, couldn't be further from Anne. She's naive to the point of stupidity. She's a very talented confectioner, who can mold incredible sugar subtleties that awe and stun the court, but even though she has a maid, a groom, and a foster child/apprentice, Lucy is as unworldly about basic human interactions as a newborn colt. We're to believe that a reasonably attractive young woman - the only woman in Henry's kitchens - has never been courted, kissed, or had a friend. Even her apprentice holds her (or is held) at arm's length. That changes, however, when musician Mark Smeaton decides to hang out in her kitchen. Poor Lucy develops a crush on him, to the sly amusement/horror of her apprentice who is far more tuned in to the mood of the court (and speaking of her apprentice - how thick IS Lucy, not to realize just what he and his "friend" Silvester are up to?) And of course, any reader with a smidgen of knowledge about Tudor history knows instantly how a relationship with Mark Smeaton will end. Lucy's main external goal is to create a lifelike red sugar rose, which stymies her as red food coloring is not available in Tudor England. When Smeaton, oblivious to Lucy's feelings (there are a lot of oblivious people in this book) confesses he's in love with La Boleyn, Lucy tells him to tell Anne (because, as it already established, Lucy is jaw-droppingly clueless.) Lucy gives Mark her finest creation, the red rose, to give to Anne. Does he? Dunno. Don't think so. Whole thing is dropped. Which makes the reader think: why should I care about these characters and their lives, if the author can't be arsed to follow through on her own themes and images? Not that I'm asking to be hit over the head - I can do subtext as well as the next person and there's something very nice to be said about using impermanent sugar, molded into artificial shapes meant to echo nature, as a metaphor for love and lust in Henry VIII's court. But I wouldn't mind knowing the fate of Lucy's rose. For all her thickness, I found the Lucy portions of the book much more compelling than the Anne sections. Dunn has nothing new to say about Anne, and her chapters mostly consist of Anne giving a linear recitation of her life events. The Lucy chapters, on the other hand, take place mostly during Anne's last year as Queen, and focus more on Lucy's work in the kitchens, which is a fascinating and a relatively fresh facet of Tudor history. Unfortunately, Lucy is a dull dishwater color of a character and her naïveté is just too much for me to suspend disbelief and swallow.I didn't mind Dunn's use of very modern language, although it does jar at times, especially when Anne talks of her exes or her Mum or partying all night. But the Anne here is nothing more than a bad chick lit character, focused on getting even with the girl who used to rule high school - I mean, England - and buying pretty dresses and having fun with her friends and brother so really, how else should she speak? I was just happy Anne didn't send notes to Henry reading, "OMG, Catherine is such a bee-yatch! TTYL xx"But, yeah, this is definitely not a book for Tudor purists.

  • chucklesthescot
    2019-01-20 16:19

    This is the second book by this author that I have tried and the second one that I am disappointed with. Yet this one had the potential to be a good book, so I'm even more frustrated with it.The story is told from two viewpoints-Lucy, the royal sweet maker, and Anne Boleyn writing a letter on the eve of her execution to her beloved daughter Elizabeth. And this was the immediate problem with the book. The chapters featuring Anne's story were very enjoyable and I rattled along in the story, quite happy with what I was reading. I didn't really mind the more modern language...I found it amusing when Anne was using f bombs to Henry like a harpie! I always like reading novels about Anne because she is such a fascinating woman and this version was no different. But then we were back to Lucy's chapter and I was nearly slipping into a coma with the boredom.Lucy was endlessly in the kitchen making something sweet for Henry while the whining figure of Mark Smeaton hung around there, moaning on about how Henry treated Anne. What the hell was the point in this story? Lucy never did anything interesting, she was boring and Smeaton came across as being a complete clown who seemed to have plenty time to waste hanging around the kitchen instead of doing his job as a musician. Every time we left Anne to go back to Lucy and Mark, I started to yawn. By the third Lucy chapter, I decided to just skip these chapters and concentrate on reading about Anne. The other serious irritation was the timeline as we changed chapters. You read about Lucy and Mark in 1535 discussing Henry's affair with Madge when Anne was pregnant, then the next chapter goes back to Anne in 1527 when Henry first mentions divorcing Catherine. So there is no flow to the story, no consistancy and it just felt like a mess to me.And then we had the name changes which really did my head in. The author explains that she has changed names to avoid confusion or the use of dated names. OK I think the readers understand the difference between Henry the King, Henry Percy the lover and Henry Norris, the alleged adulterer! As for the author's aversion to using dated names, this turned the book into a farce. We had Harry for Henry, Tommy Wyatt, Franky Weston, Betsy Blount instead of Bessie, Meg instead of Madge, Billy Brereton...oh please! Just use the correct names already! Every time 'Nick' or 'Charlie' was mentioned I had to stop and think who this was again. Very confusing indeed. And there was the deliberate invention for no apparent reason of having Henry Norris telling Anne about Henry's fall instead of the Duke of Norfolk. For a start, Norris was one of the King's closest servants and would have been attending the injured King, not giving news like that to the Queen.I would've given it three stars for the Anne Boleyn story but the Lucy non story barely deserves a mention, never mind a star so I cannot give the whole book more than two. Disappointing Tudor novel.

  • Lois Clark-Johnston
    2019-02-04 17:28

    Um, I did not like this book. The first few chapters were pretty good because it was being told by Anne herself. Then it switched around to the other narrator and I just did not care for it.**** I am now re-reading this novel and finding that I may have been too hasty in my previous judgement.This book was slow paced and slow moving for my taste-but the first person pov of Anne Boleyn was wonderful. She is protrayed as a strong wlled, strong minded lady who at first was not at all interested in becoming the King's love interest. As time passed and his devotion to her grew rather than dimmed, she kind of grew to love him. I have no doubt after reading this book that Anne loved Henry nor any doubt that he loved her in return-for a brief time anyway.An interesting point is made in the novel by Anne-she says that Henry did not divorce Katherine because of Anne (the possibility of setting Queen Katherine had been thrown around at court long before Anne became a player) but that he did divorce Katherine for her.The other character in the book-Lucy-was the kings confectioner. It put me in the mind of the Food Networks Ace of Cakes.

  • Redfox5
    2019-01-27 16:31

    I've read a couple of books by Suzannah Dunn and really enjoyed them. This one didn't pull me in as much which is a shame as it's a retelling of my favorite story.It's hard to retell a story that's been told so many times and she does try and put a different twist on it by introducing Lucy Cornwallis with her own side story. While it's interesting to know about Lucy, she was the only female working in the Tudor Kitchens. Her lust with Mark Smeaton isn't that believable. And after watching Showtime's 'The Tudors'. I can't picture Mark being straight.Anne's story is captivating as always and I like how her point of view chapters were in the past and Lucy's were in the present. She was also talking as if to Elizabeth so it's done in the knowledge of hindsight.I finally had the chance to actually read in the sunshine! And because of this finished the book very quickly. It then put me in a Tudor mood and I had to watch the film 'Anne Of A Thousand Days' to which my boyfriend was like "How many times do you watch this story!?" Lots. I'm obsessed.

  • Cindy
    2019-02-14 21:33

    Not my favorite telling of the story of Anne Boleyn. I was intrigued by the premise of Anne writing a letter to her daughter Elizabeth while shut in the Tower prior to her death... but the slang of today used in the dialogue was very irritating. I was also intrigued by the parallel story of Lucy Cornwallis, but found her narratives boring and I was often tempted to skip right over them. I think Dunn's ideas for a new twist on a well known story were good, just poorly executed.

  • Sheila Starrett
    2019-01-27 17:18

    This story could've been so very much better...! It had a lot of potential but was lacking.

  • Kat
    2019-02-06 21:23

    I picked this novel up at the Lifeline Bookfest for $4. I did not get value for money.Let me begin by saying that I enjoy all types of historical fiction. I have room in my bookshelf for cerebral lit like Wolf Hall, the narrative styling of Jean Plaidy, and the more historically playful (ha) works of Philippa Gregory. I do not judge a book for playing with history, for invention for the sake of enjoyment.This is just a bad book.The idea was so promising, a novel about a character in history with an interesting profession! Confectioner! I wondered, how did a woman get that job? What went into making each wonderful confection? What was her relationship (if any) to the greats of the day? This book only answered one of these questions, and answered it poorly.First, Lucy is a character with little depth and less backstory. Not all books need to be Wolf Hall in terms of showing the everyday work of a character, but some description of her life and times would have made the novel so much more memorable. Second, her tiny interludes with Henry seem out of place and meaningless. If we learn nothing about either character, why would this scene take place? Third, the plot is so thin it is practically see through. By the end of the story, I could not believe that was where our main character was being left. Nothing had actually happened to her, physically, spiritually, or mentally, aside from a broken heart. She is just left sadder, with the departure of her equally poorly written (and fairly unlikeable) apprentice. I have not mentioned the Anne side of the plot, as it has been rightfully critiqued by other reviewers so well. The anachronisms are too much for even me to ignore. My great concern is that by splitting the story between Lucy and Anne, the author leaves little time for much plot at all. Unlike the excellent work of Sherry Jones ("Four Sisters, All Queens"), the plots barely intertwine.In short, this novel is really two books...but I don't think I want to read either.

  • Lauren
    2019-02-12 17:30

    I'm going to be honest here. The writing was fine & I didn't mind the flipping between narrators. Here's the thing: One narrator was Lucy Cornwallis, confectioner for the king, & she was essentially telling her story in "real time". The other narrator was Anne Boleyn & she was telling her story in a letter to her daughter Elizabeth. So Anne's portion was going over past events while being held in the Tower of London. One flaw in this book was having to keep up with who was telling what story when.Secondly, the book felt like it was dragging towards the end. I kept having a "C'mon. Get on with it" kind of feeling.For the most part, this was a good book & the story was interesting. I mean, it's essentially the story of Anne Boleyn's downfall. How isn't that interesting?! (Basically - if you're looking for a happy ending, this is not your book. Historically speaking, it does not end well for Anne Boleyn.)I also did like that one of the narrators was a servant (the confectioner/Lucy). Kind of a high-low mix of viewpoints. But why Lucy & not her assistant Richard? I ask because it seemed like Richard had more access to the action than Lucy did, since she was always in the kitchen working on the various subtleties & sweets for Henry VIII's table. On the flip side, Lucy did have conversations with Mark Smeaton (one of the men accused of having affairs with Anne Boleyn, tried for treason as a consequence, & subsequently put to death).

  • Michelle Cristiani
    2019-01-26 18:36

    I enjoyed the two viewpoints, especially from the confectioner. The overwritten subject of the Tudors is best, now, when told from a perspective outside of the major players. It was smart, too, to write one perspective in present tense and one in past. What didn't work for me was a surprise: the telling of the story as if in modern-day language. It's a tricky thing, because the readership is already bombarded with tales from this time period, and it's hard to match current language with historical culture. I was disappointed that it didn't work as well in practice as I thought it would in theory. Anne's story as a letter to Elizabeth was somehow thinner than I'd have liked. It rang true of what I knew of Anne's described character, but I didn't find anything new in it. Maybe I wasn't the intended audience? I'm not sure.

  • Chloe Lucey
    2019-02-16 23:15

    It felt very childish in the way it was written. I also found very confusing by the names that have been shortened to the modern way I.e. Thomas to Tom. It would be far better to use the last name instead. The last thing that I wish to say is having two storylines through the story would have worked better if they connected better but also if they flowed time wise better. As the for the fact that they alternate chapter by chapter between Anne Bolyen and an almost unknown person. Anne's story reflects back on the past vs the other character is in the present. It also never matched up stories for example the queen was pregnant in one chapter and not even with Henry in another. Its not one I would ever read again.

  • Kathy
    2019-02-12 20:18

    I wasn't going to read this, having thought I had read enough about Anne Boleyn -- but then I opened it to one of the chapters about Lucy Cornwallis, the kind's confectioner, and I was hooked. Anne's story is told in the first person, and reflects the usual interpretations of her personality and her mistakes in making so many enemies, but it's Lucy's story that is captivating. According to the story, she was the only woman in the king's kitchens, and the details about her work as a confectioner are fascinating. Apparently subtleties were delicacies, or confections, an important part of any banquet, and true works of art. An interesting take on a well known story.

  • Michelle
    2019-02-06 16:40

    The voice that the author uses for Anne Boleyn is too modern and much like a petulant teenager's tone. The various players at court are not introduced well. The reader needs to have an understanding of these characters and the workings of court before reading this book. Anne's point of view is interesting and one I've not read before.

  • Clairissa
    2019-02-07 18:32

    This book was ok...It took a while to get used to the characters using such modern language. Overall not bad, not great.

  • Jan
    2019-02-01 23:30

    It was an okay book. I do have a problem when authors take modern day attitudes and customs and trandspose them to past times.

  • Chequers
    2019-01-29 15:31

    Molto scorrevole e ben scritto, la storia si sviluppa in parallelo tra Anna Bolena e la sua pasticcera, ed una comune amicizia, Smeaton, il musicista di corte.Molto gradevole.

  • Shannon
    2019-01-27 21:22

    I was truly eager to read another novel from Suzannah Dunn and pulled The Queen of Subtleties: A Novel of Anne Boleyn immediately out of my latest shipment of books. Thus far in all my years of devouring all Tudor era historical fiction I had not come across a novel that I could not find anything redeeming about. That was until The Queen of Subtleties crossed my path. I hate to say that, as I truly admire and have complete respect for all authors for the accomplishment alone. My comments are made with the upmost respect and as I mentioned I have enjoyed Dunn’s work in the past.Anne Boleyn, as depicted in The Queen of Subtleties, is much more Sex and The City than anything else. I found the modern language difficult and the use of unfamiliar nicknames VERY annoying. Some examples: Charlie (Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, Tom (Thomas Cromwell), Franky (Sir Francis Weston, Fitz (Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond), Billy (William Brereton) and Harry (Sir Henry Norris). Really? I had a hard time figuring out whom Dunn was referring to and that certainly detracted from the flow of the read. Really, one might enjoy it, if they had little to no knowledge of the period, but that annoyed me as well, it was a waste of time for me and truly I would have tossed it aside had I not felt bound to review the book for my blog. The language is also thoroughly modern and annoyingly so – again, I found myself completely distracted by it.I feel compelled to say that I did enjoy bits and pieces of it. Especially, the last chapter, in which Anne offers some advice to her daughter, Elizabeth, whom she wants to tell to keep her head down to keep her head, but acknowledges that with Tudor and Boleyn blood that task will prove impossible. Acknowledging this, Anne tells Elizabeth to simply be her mother’s daughter and hold her head high despite the risk. I wish Dunn could have brought more of mother/daughter connection of the last chapter to the entire novel… Nevertheless, one chapter cannot make up for the nicknames and the language, which distracted this reader from really understanding what this novel's point was - perhaps it didn't have one. I will confess I am always annoyed by attempts to “dumb down” history to make it more accessible. Honestly, if you can’t distinguish Mary Tudor, Queen of France, Duchess of Suffolk, from Mary Tudor, Queen of England, daughter of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII, then perhaps you should just find something else to read. Rather than bringing history to life Dunn confuses those with knowledge and misinforms anyone without it. As I have said in the past, good historical fiction should foster investigation into history, to my mind, not dumb it down for the masses. Really this shouldn’t be classified as historical fiction but rather complete fiction. I hate to say this but do not waste your time with this one.

  • Sorcha
    2019-02-13 21:30

    From my bookshelves. This edition is a "Not for resale" that looks like it was a freebie with a copy of Red magazine. I (attempted to) read this slim novel immediately after The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory. The former is twice the size of the latter, and whilst The Constant Princess is focussed on Catherine of Aragon, this book tells of Anne Boleyn.Anne BoleynWhilst in The Constant Princess, the first affair acknowledged by Catherine of Aragon is Anne Boleyn (thus setting up the rest of the Tudor series) The Queen of Subtleties presents that Catherine knew of previous affairs and attended the baptism of the illegitimate Fitz, even if she never formally acknowledged him.The book starts the day before Anne's execution and she's looking back on where it all started, as a letter and a warning to her daughter Elizabeth. As with other fiction books about Anne Boleyn, she is betrayed as scheming, manipulative, but ultimately rather naive and deluded. Henry didnt divorce Catherine because of me. For me, yes; in the end, yes. But not because of me.It is interspersed with the narrative Lucy Cornwallis, the King's confectioner, whose narration covers 1535 - 1536.The following from an article in The Scotsman about this book makes both Lucy - as the maker - and Anne as the received, both Queen of Subtleties Subtleties are, or rather were, intricate sugar sculptures and statues created as beautiful centrepieces for Medieval feasts - the beginnings of modern-day sugar craft, although this was rather more like sugar art. The exquisite adornments are thought to have been created in the early 15th century with subtleties appearing at the coronation feast of eight-year-old Henry VI in 1429.I have to admit this was a DNF. I got about 50% through (bearing in mind this was a very short book) before the anachronistic language was simply too much. Anne called her parents "mum" and "dad". When angry she said words like "fuck" and "christ". I know this is classed as a "reimaging" but Dunn and her publishers would do well to look at books like Longbourn by Jo Baker (loved the story AND how it was told) or Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James (not so sure about the story, but liked how it was told). In other words - you shouldn't sacrifice the way the book is written in order to get attention....I do wonder whether the book or the deal with Red's publishers came first, and am I being snobbish about Red's circulation?

  • Beverly Diehl
    2019-01-18 18:40

    This novel takes a very different approach to the story of Anne Boleyn. The modern slang may throw a lot of readers off. There are actually two alternating stories being told here; Anne’s story, as being recounted in a letter to her daughter Elizabeth (would she really use so much foul language?), and the story of Mistress Lucy Cornwallis, the King’s confectioner, who falls in love with musician Mark Smeaton.There actually was a Mrs. Cornwallis, who was the Kings confectioner, but all else about her here is fictional. In this novel, she’s portrayed as being the same age as Queen Anne Boleyn, for whom she has little to no sympathy - she cannot even bring herself to refer to her as “the queen.” Lucy’s story starts in spring 1535. A young man comes to her kitchen, as she is busy boiling sugar; she assumes he is looking for her assistant, Richard, who has a lot of “friends.” He returns, eventually, because he is been intrigued by the final product as it appears on the King’s table. Over time, he continues to return, Lucy learns his name, and they become friends.Anne’s story is jarring, and IMO, does her no justice. While putting the story in contemporary language is an interesting choice, what often comes across is not witty, as all Anne’s admirers and even enemies will grant her, but mean, coarse, and vulgar. Occasionally it works - for instance, the emblem the king wore when jousting has been transmuted from “Declare I Dare Not,” to “No Comment.” I could also imagine Anne, in a “mood,” making fun of Henry’s poetry (as some have said she did) by reading it aloud in a funny voice, with her hand dramatically over her heart. I could not imagine her telling people to “eff off,” or calling someone “an arrogant little prick,” Anne is reported to have been much more eloquent than that.Henry, as told from the viewpoint of this Anne, is a p*ssy-whipped wimp, and this, too, is a very great stretch of the imagination.Where this novel works for me is in the vivid descriptions of the candy making (“Sugar, powdered, gets everywhere. In my hair and down my throat.”), the periodic moving from one location to another, the challenges and different ways of making “subleties.” So for that reason, I think the book is an interesting read, this peek at the duties, gossip, and goings-on of the people backstage in the saga.

  • C.H. Armstrong
    2019-01-26 20:10

    I tried to read this book and I gave up at about the 2/3s marker...which is really unfortunate because I love all things Tudor-related and I think Ann Boleyn is probably my favorite of the 6 wives of Henry VIII.I've read a lot of books on this period, both historically accurate and historical fiction. The problem with this book is that it was a work of fiction that didn't lend anything new or different or interesting to the story. And the worst part is that I think the author tried to do exactly that and failed.The story is told in two parts. The first is a letter that Ann Boleyn is writing to her daughter, Elizabeth, while in the tower awaiting her execution. In first person, Ann talks about the years leading up to her marriage to Henry and then her time as Queen. The second is a first-person story from the Royal Confectioner; a woman the same age as Ann Boleyn, yet in a different station.First and foremost, the two stories are seemingly unrelated. Every time the author changed voices, I felt like I was reading a different book. It was bizarre at best and boring at worst.I had hoped that the author would bring "life" to Ann in this book, like Philippa Gregory did so successfully in "The Other Boleyn Girl," or as Allison Weir did for Lady Jane Grey in "Innocent Traitor." Both authors were able to tell an old story from a different perspective and leave the reader with an imagination full of what-ifs and "oh...I hadn't thought about it like that."From an historical standpoint, I think the story was fairly accurate; at least in terms of timeline and major events. But beyond that, the story failed. Ann was a brilliant woman, yet the author failed to show her brilliance; instead she painted the picture of a spoiled, self-centered and catty woman. Certainly Ann was probably all of those things, but she was also brilliant and to not show that brilliance is to not understand who Ann really was.It's not often that I don't finish a book. I'll usually read every page to the end because I feel like I've failed if I don't complete the book. This time, though, I just couldn't make myself read to the end. There are just way too many good books out there to waste time on something so lacking.

  • Gretchen
    2019-02-16 18:17

    I hate to review a book I haven't even finished but in this case it needs to be done. I am adding this book to the very short list of books I started and never finished. That list is now home to three books. I generally force myself to push through to the end of a book no matter how bad or how long it takes me. I can't do it with this book. I have had enough of the author portraying Anne Boleyn as some Renaissance version of Regina George. I am tired of the name calling (Catherine of Aragon is referred to by Anne Boleyn at one point as "Her Oldbagness") and bitter (Not to mention flat out ridiculous dialogue. At one point it is suggested that Henry uses the word "skedaddle".) I do not believe this was the type of person Anne Boleyn was. I believe Anne Boleyn tends to get a bad wrap among people and this book does nothing but further that stereotype. Maybe the author redeems Anne at the end. Maybe the author plans on some big twist in which Anne magically sees the light and becomes a loving, less snarky human being. Maybe but I'll never know. The addition of the fictional Lucy Cornwallis can't even save this book. I care nothing for her character. I know what happens to Anne Boleyn and her friends (Franky and Billy?!? No) at the end of the book so it's not like I'm really missing out on some big revelation there. If you are reading this review wondering if you should read this book at some point in the future, don't. Just don't. If I didn't have an entire stack of books calling my name, I might see this one through to the end but I know there are better books out there and I cannot be bothered to waste anymore time with this one.

  • Ladyslott
    2019-02-03 15:14

    I have read almost everything I come across about the ill-fated Anne Boleyn and Henry Tudor. Some of those books have been remarkably balanced in the presentation of Anne’s life and death. This book was a fairly awful retelling of her story. While Anne has never been depicted as a shrinking violet, her portrayal here was nothing less than that of a nasty, shrewish, self serving witch. I felt nothing but dislike for her, and not much of anything else for any of the characters. This is one of the most fascinating tales in history, and somehow the author made this love affair boring. The interweaving of Anne’s story with the tale of Lucy Cornwallis, a confectioner in the kitchens, could have been far more interesting than it was. The telling of the tale of Lucy in the present tense was very confusing, since Anne’s chapters are told from the past up to the present. It was often difficult to figure out where in the story I was. The use of modern slang and idioms was extremely annoying, and nullified any feel for the era the author may have been trying to convey. I doubt that Anne called her father “Dad”, and nicknames such as Tommy, Franky and Billy seemed completely out of character. Using bump to refer to a pregnancy, and other words such as awesome brought this book to a People magazine like pulp tale.Read Allison Weir’s true accounting The Six Wives of Henry VII. If you want historical fiction Jean Plaidy has written an entire series of books about all the wives. For a better fictional account The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory is a far superior book. Skip this one all together.